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kitchn-safety-msg - 12/6/06


Kitchen safety for SCA feasts.


NOTE: See also the files: headcooks-msg, kitchen-clean-msg, kitchen-knives-msg, kitch-toolbox-msg, serving-soups-msg, cooks-clothng-msg, child-kitchen-msg, fd-transport-msg.





This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.


This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


I have done a limited amount of editing. Messages having to do with separate topics were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the message IDs were removed to save space and remove clutter.


The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make no claims as to the accuracy of the information given by the individual authors.


Please respect the time and efforts of those who have written these messages. The copyright status of these messages is unclear at this time. If information is published from these messages, please give credit to the originator(s).


Thank you,

    Mark S. Harris                  AKA:  THLord Stefan li Rous

                                          Stefan at florilegium.org



Date: Sun, 11 Jan 2004 22:16:23 -0500

From: "Phil Troy/ G. Tacitus Adamantius" <adamantius at verizon.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Safety in the Kitchen

To: Cooks within he SCA <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


Also sprach Jane Boyko:

> I am giving a lecture at our local practicum on safety in the kitcen.

> I have quite a bit of information and want to round it out more.


> I have a few questions which I hope the answers you provide will allow

> me to address things I have not thought of.


> 1.  What do you do to protect yourself in the kitche from injuries?


I generally wear a cook's cote, designed with some of the features of

a modern chef's white coat, in an essentially period design. My

current model is a Greenland gown; I preferred my older cote version

(as in, proto, less fitted version of, a cotehardie), because it was

lighter and more tailored, so it had the flexibility without the

weight. Both versions (and I'm about due to have a new one made) have

a high collar to protect the neck, extra-long sleeves with doubled

fabric at the cuffs, so the cuffs can be folded back and still cover

the wrist and protect the forearms and hands from burns, and even be

used as a potholder in an emergency. Both are designed to be easy to

get out of, should they be splashed with a lot of boiling oil or

catch fire or something like that. They also had/have a double layer

of fabric across the chest, also for protection.


Good shoes (I am a huge fan of Birkenstocks, especially their

"Professional" line of backed and strapped clogs for chefs, nurses,

doctors, an lab workers: people that stand all day on hard floors)

are beyond pearls. Those thick rubber floor mats, the perforated ones

you sometimes see around dishwashing stations in restaurants, are

also a godsend.


I am extremely careful with wet towels and potholders. There's

nothing quite like picking up a potholder, only to find yourself

being scalded by steam instead of being burnt by a hot metal handle.


You might need to teach people how to walk with knives in their

hands. Professional cooks usually walk with their arms hanging

straight down, with the knife blade held firmly, but not stiffly,

against the thigh, point down, edge back. That way, the person

leaping back to avoid the splashing, boiling oil doesn't get skewered

through the back and chest. If you drop a knife, do not try to catch

it. Let it fall, step back quickly, let it bounce, if necessary let

it break. Pick it up off the floor, clean it, and resume work.


Kitchens are sometimes noisy places, and sometimes cooks concentrate

highly on what they're doing. If you're behind someone dealing with

something hot, or a rapidly moving blade, make sure they know you're

there. A common and effective technique is to carefully and

deliberately touch the person's back or shoulder, saying, clearly,

but without yelling in the person's ear, "Behind you." This _does_

take some getting used to, of course, but in the end it seems to be

the most effective technique.


A ritual of mine has always been to buy a fresh new box of Kosher

salt for each event I cook for. (I'm sure my fellow local cooks just

love it when they find 27 half-used boxes in the Provincial supplies.

;-)  ) It's good for seasoning, good to add to a sanitizing solution,

good for cleaning cutting boards, and good for soaking up grease

spilled on the floor and providing traction if you're in the middle

of service and can't clear the room to mop.


Watch the people that work with/for you. Even if you're too dumb to

take care of yourself, make sure that they do. Either set up a break

schedule or just make sure that everyone gets one. If possible,

including you. Tired cooks are dangerous to themselves and others.


And finally, leaping headfirst into hot convection ovens is work for

trained professional cooks in a closed kitchen. Kids, don't try this

one at home!


> 2.  Do you bring your own first-aid kit?  If so what do you consider

> essential?


Actually, my feeling is that if anybody needs anything much more than

a band-aid (or equivalent level of protection), they're gonna have to

stop working and [possibly] go to the emergency room, anyway. As

such, I keep a very minimalist supply of first aid supplies:

Band-Aids, pressure pads, pain-killing Neosporin, and some Ibuprofen.

Then again, we also have local members who are EMT's and paramedic

types, and they usually keep a full case of supplies.


> 3.  Do you have any personal "problems" and what steps to you take to

> look after yourself - prior, during and after the event?


I used to drink seltzer as the beverage of choice. I now find, when

I'm in high-heat or other dehydrating situations, I need something

like Gatorade, in addition to the seltzer, or I develop agonizing

cramps. A highlight of one of the last events I cooked at (actually I

don't think I was in charge of that one) was my lady wife and myself

both being essentially paralyzed by muscle cramps for a fairly

prolonged period (say, 45 minutes or so), at roughly the same time. I

think, because it wasn't my kitchen and I wasn't sure I'd be in there

working, I neglected to bring any Gatorade (tonic water works, too),

and maybe the fighters drank the event's supply...


I've realized, recently, that I can no longer stay up all night the

night before an event, and expect to be coherent through the next

day. Probably that whole Getting Old thing at work.


I try to remember to eat during the day, but mostly the form this

takes is tasting dishes as they move toward completion, and I may or

may not take in any significant amount of food. Digestion requires

energy I can't spare while I'm working. (Yes, this probably sounds

like I'm kidding, but I'm not.) Usually at around 1 AM, when I get

home from an event, is when I get hungry.


I have a personal policy about alcohol in kitchens I run. I don't

expect anyone else to share it, but if they work with or for me, they

can accept it or choose to be elsewhere: I feel about alcohol and

knives and fires the same way I feel about alcohol and driving or

firearms. These things have the potential to be dangerous enough

without alcohol taking the edge off your reflexes. Nobody loves a

good single-malt whisky or a good stout more than me, when the work

is done, but until then, it's for cooking, not for drinking in any

quantity at all.


On a tangential note, a little hygiene experiment (in addition to all

the usual warnings). Try counting the number of times you put your

hand on your face, scratch your hair with an uncovered hand, scratch

or untickle your nose, wipe sweat off your brow, scratch your tuchus,

and any of a billion different ways to transmit germs to food unless

you, immediately, wash your hands before touching food or

equipment. Honestly, make a little tick-off chart in your head, the

kind where you make four slashes and then a fifth slash through them

all. Keep a count of the number of hygiene no-no's of the type I've

just mentioned, that you commit in the course of a day. You'd be

amazed. Yes, wash your hands after each such offense, but the main

point is to train your body and your mind: transfer control of this

activity from an unconscious part of your mind to a conscious part,

and remind yourself that each time you do it, you'll need to stop and

wash your hands. You'll find that you do it a lot less. And remember

that sanitizing gels, while effective, can be toxic if not rinsed



My apologies for the mish-mssh, but maybe some of it will come in handy.





Date: Sun, 11 Jan 2004 21:28:18 -0700

From: "Erika Thomenus" <ldygytha at hotmail.com>

Subject: RE: [Sca-cooks] Safety in the Kitchen

To: sca-cooks at ansteorra.org


> 1.  What do you do to protect yourself in the kitchen from injuries?


Use a real double-boiler.  Or, as Master Adamantius suggested, a steel

Bowl on top of a pot.


Warm facial = good.  Boiling, explosive facial = bad.


-Gytha "Aloe Is My Friend" Karlsdotter



Date: Mon, 12 Jan 2004 09:34:50 -0500 (EST)

From: <jenne at fiedlerfamily.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Safety in the Kitchen

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


> 1.  What do you do to protect yourself in the kitchen from injuries?


Hm... I don't do very well at most things, but:


1. Curl your fingers under, not OUT, when holding food to slice.

2. Wear natural fabrics and clothing that can be quickly pulled away  

from the body in case of a hot spill-- t-tunics work well for this.

3. Provide lots of pot holders and dry towels. Remove wet towels from the

work area so someone doesn't try to use them as pot holders.

4. Make sure you and your crew drinks lots of water and takes breaks as



> 2.  Do you bring your own first-aid kit?  If so what do you consider

> essential?


I don't. I just make sure I know the name and location of at least two

chirugeons. :)


> 3.  Do you have any personal "problems" and what steps to you take to  

> look after yourself - prior, during and after the event?


I have plantar fascitis. Among other things, I have to faithfully do my

foot exercises to extend the life of my feet before the event. I plan the

kitchen so that many tasks can be done sitting down. I make sure I take

breaks sitting down. I also (now) check my feet to make sure I don't have

any heel cracks-- one feast I was totally unaware that I had made my hip

really sore by limping until I took off my shoes and found the cracked

heel. I also try to line up people to help me load my stuff back into

the car at the end of the event. :)


-- Pani Jadwiga Zajaczkowa, Knowledge Pika jenne at fiedlerfamily.net



Date: Mon, 12 Jan 2004 08:54:08 -0800

From: "Anne-Marie Rousseau" <dailleurs at liripipe.com>

Subject: RE: [Sca-cooks] Safety in the Kitchen

To: "'Cooks within the CA'" <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


Hey all from Anne-Marie

A subject near and dear to my heart :) (I'm actually a trained



We recently did a charity dinner that had to obtain a temporary kitchen

permit from the local county health department. This involved an

inspection, having someone with a food handlers permit on site at all

times and a long list of requirements.


I had called our inspector a few days before and chatted with her about

what she wanted to see, and what would make her happy :) (the joys of

working in a small enough county that the lady manning the phones is

your inspector as well :)).


1. long hair had to be contained. In my kitchens, most everyone wears a

hat of some kind. Women tend to wear turban type headdresses and men

wear coifs. All long hair was tied back in a ponytail at least, and

usually braided.


2. we were required to have a bucket of bleachy water with a rag in it

for disinfecting counters etc (personally I'd rather use a disposable

wiper for each use, so we went over and above on that one :))


3. any and all foods that were handled without subsequent cooking were

required to be handled using gloves. We used surgical ones since I could

steal those from work ;), but the cheap food handlers gloves are fine.

This meant everyone who processed the salad, garnish, and was dishing up

had to use gloves. Frequent changing was imposed by me :).


4. all hot foods were kept hot an cold foods were kept cold. Stuff was

kept cooking or in a hot oven until it was served. This meant that we

had to time things very carefully, but we did it :). She was very

impressed. We found that using roasting bags meant we could hold large

pieces of meat in the oven longer without overcooking.


5. no tasting by sticking your finger in the pot (this is my bad

one...I'm always doing that at home, and have to remember not to do it at

events), or re-using a tasting spoon. Pull some out with a clean spoon

or the stirry spoon and pour it into your tasting spoon that you have in

your pocket :).


6. no reusing dishes or spoons or nothing without a complete sterilizing

wash. Since the kitchen we used last time had pretty primitive

dishwashing facilities, we just didn't reuse anything. Meant lots of

dishes, tho!


7. any outside cooking must be done under a cover. We frequent develop

and auxillary kitchen space outside using colemans, etc and just put

them under the roof overhang, etc. all pots must have lids, even if its

just a temporary foil one.


I STRONGLY RECOMMEND natural fiber clothing and sensible no skid shoes

for any cooking setting and REQUIRE it for outdoor cooking using any

sort of flame. Linen is good, wool is better. (I have an old polyester

apron I us as an example of WHY. Scared straight works good :))


That's how we do it, anyway, and it works well for us :)



PS the Kitsap county health inspector was VERY impressed with us :)


<the end>

Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
All other copyrights are property of the original article and message authors.

Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org